Construction chemical trends in 2021
During the pandemic, many chemical manufacturing facilities ceased production due to lockdowns announced by the government. This resulted in weak demand from many end-use industries leading to low prices. However, with a gradual increase in oil price, petrochemical, and other chemicals including enzymes, water treatment chemicals, speciality chemical, agrochemicals and other manufacturers are expected to gain in 2021. In addition, with chemical demand increasing from various end-use industries in China with low rebound effect and an assumption India will follow on China’s path, the chemical industry will experience growth and retain pre-pandemic level by early 2022.
Packaging materials, especially in the food industry, have witnessed tremendous changes during the pandemic. Consumer demand increased for frozen food offering better protection against bacteria and viruses. Some of the packaging materials offering better anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties include shrink films, aluminium, flexible bags and films, high barrier thermoforming films, skin films, and so on. Manufacturers have witnessed increased demand for such anti-viral packaging using materials such as polymer foam, metals and other disinfectant chemicals.
During post pandemic times, various plastic components are being replaced with natural products. For instance, paper straws, bamboo water bottles, leaf packaging, leaf trays, jute bags, paper bags, and so on are replacing plastic-based components. Recycled materials such as green solvents, bio-degradable and compostable materials and other natural fibre-based products are used having negligible environmental impact.
Since 1st January 2021, the European Union has imposed a tax of €0.80 (about $1.00) per kilogram on non-recycled plastic packaging waste. The tax is part of the EU’s €750 billion ($900 billion) COVID-19 economic recovery package. such initiatives by the government will give an impetus for eco-friendly and recycled materials.
Concrete is one of the most used construction materials globally. The ability of concrete to bind with other materials using bacteria and admixtures is known as self-healing concrete. The ability of concrete to heal itself from interior or exterior damage enables increased longevity of structures. The use of self-healing concrete is currently in nascent stage, limited to buildings. However, it is also being developed for use in public infrastructure projects such as bridges, roads, tunnels, ports, and so on.
With stringent environmental regulations and increasing awareness, the demand for low environment impact chemicals is increasing. Green chemicals are sourced from recycled chemicals, biotechnology process, and bio-based methods, resulting in waste prevention, and a reduction in hazardous materials.
Modular and prefabricated construction, already seeing growth in the construction industry, is expected to witness significant further growth during the post-COVID era. Social distancing being the new normal, prefabricated panels can be constructed at an off-site location and transported to the construction site. The off-site facility can provide ample space and utilise ceiling cranes, conveyors, lifts, and other advanced equipment to increase construction efficiency. Modular construction can be cheaper compared to conventional construction and can lead to lower maintenance and longer life.
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